Sleep and weight gain - is there a connection

There are reports that suggest a possible correlation between lack of sleep and weight gain obesity. Is there a co-relation ? 
When we sleep we recover. This is the time the body uses to repair the body for the next day. Its a bit like having a fully charged phone or starting your day with a battery of 10% 
Multiple research papers have studied sleep across years and they studies suggest that people who less than that 6 hours gain nearly double the amount of weight over 6 years than people who got in 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.

On the flip side more sleep doesn’t mean better. People who sleep over 9 hours seem to have a similar body composition results as people who slept less than 6 hours. 
We might this sleep deprivation is due to busy schedules and hectic lives but the research suggests the highest levels of lowered sleep ours is from Voluntary Bed time Delay from things as simple as watching tv or scrolling social media. 
Sleep deprivation be it voluntary or a health issue increases risk of weight gain, insulin resistance, and Type 2 diabetes
This goes further because research also suggests that while regular exercise can help reduce the risk of cancer in women, the benefits can be lost with continuous low sleep 
A 2005 study tracked 10000 individuals and it found that people between 32 and 49 with less than 7 hours of sleep were more likely to be obese but staying awake post midnight tended to increase the chances of obesity. Surprisingly there was no corelation with wake time. 
How does this connection work ?
There are many reasons why sleep deprivation can impact body fat some of them are the decreased growth hormone (GH), thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), and increased cortisol. 
Chronic sleep deprivation also shows a lowered insulin response, lowered leptin ( it tells us when we are full and to stop eating) 
In more realistic terms this shows up at night time snacking while people stay awake longer and mostly turn to quick processed foods or desserts. 
Waking up tired the next day leads to lower activity through the day, maybe even missing an exercise session and decreased motivation to make healthier choices. When tired people tend to make unhealthier food choices because it’s easier to order in whatever is faster over cooking or looking for a healthier alternative. Thereby reducing calories expended but increases calories consumed thereby adding to the weight gain roller coaster. 
Then comes the appetite hormones. A small study of 12 individuals who slept just 4 hours for 2 nights consecutively showed a lower level of leptin ( tells us when to stop eating) and higher levels of ghrelin ( tells us we are hungry). This combination stimulated hunger. These people reported higher cravings for calorie dense sweet foods like processes sweet, bakery items etc. 
Getting to little sleep each night also increases risk of sudden cardiac arrests, strokes. The added weight gain then may see insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. 


3. Do sufficient hours of sleep aid in weight loss in that case? 
Adequate sleep is necessary to regulate nearly all hormones by ensuring we have a well regulated circadian rhythm. Feeling more energetic on waking and having a set of happy hormones automatically means you have the energy to move more, make better choices and even eat less. 
Better mood, better energy, better thinking and reasoning automatically make a weight loss journey easier.
A well regulated circadian rhythm also ensure our appetite hormones are fired the way they are supposed to. For example our grehlin levels are naturally higher during the afternoon .. think afternoon munchies. Over unregulated cravings. 
The circadian rhythms is also regulated by light and dark cycles which means people in night shifts may still experience multiple issues.
4. Is the correlation between lack of sleep and weight gain the same for young children/teenagers, men and women?   
Another study that tracked 9000 children from birth found that children who slept the least when they were about 30 months old were more like to be obese byy the time they turned 7 compared to children who slept more. 
Another small study of 11 healthy 20 year old men who were allowed only 4 hours of sleep for 6 consecutive nights showed startling results. At the end of the 6 days these healthy 20 year olds has the insulin sensitivity of a 70 year old pre diabetic male. Some studies also suggest a loss of muscle mass or lowered muscle retention in sleep deprived males due to their levels of testosterone fluctuation. Just after a week of 5 hours of less testosterone was seen to decreases by 10 to 15%
5. What's the optimum number of hours of sleep one should have to keep weight in check and overall health?
Ideally we should aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep on average with no 2 consecutive night of less than 6 hours. 
The number varies for children through their growth stages. 
6. What are the preventive measures to check obesity and weight gain in relation to sleep? 
Setting up a sleep routine and changing a voluntary bed time delay is imperative to health.
Ideally a wind down routine that avoids all media devices for at least 1 hour pre bedtime will help with the natural release of melatonin. 
The ideal scenario would be to have a regular sleep time that is before midnight and to set wake time at at least 7 hours later. 
7. A few dos and don'ts.
Dos : 
Create a bed time routine 
Avoid all media devices for 30 to 60 minutes before bed time 
Ensure you room is cold and dark 
Sleep before midnight 
Get in at least 7 hours of sleep 
Avoid 2 consecutive nights of less than 6 hours of sleep 
Don’t vary your bedtime by over 2 to 3 hours 
Avoid caffeine for 4 pm 

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